There are generally four different types of stories that we tell and that I talk about regularly. They are blame, shame, guilt, and victimization. When things happen in our lives, especially early on, we take them on and we spin them in some way as a means of protecting ourselves. That spin results in stories of blame, shame, guilt, or victimization that we either pin on other people or turn inward on ourselves. You either blame them or you blame yourself. You either feel guilty or you try to make somebody else feel guilty. You either feel ashamed or try to shame others. You either make them a victim or you victimize yourself.
Those stories aren’t just mental chatter. They aren’t just Academy award winning theatre and drama. They do in fact have a major impact on us and how we show up in the world. Whatever story or combination of stories you are telling determines how you react and respond to everything that happens in your life, good or bad. This is your behavior and your behavior matters.
What does that mean? Why would I want to change my behavior? What does my behavior have to do with anything?
Spiritual healing focuses heavily on emotional healing and shadow work. It focuses on past life trauma and cycle breaking. It focuses on crying it out and re-living the trauma over and over and over again. What I've learned on my own healing is that this does not work. It doesn't fix it. There's a really important reason why this alone doesn't fix it. What is that?
Your behavior is still stuck in coping mechanisms and survival skills. Your mind is still reacting to your daily life like you're still in the old painful scenarios from the past. Neither of these things will allow you to heal if you don't do anything about them.
If somebody says something mean to you, what is your first reaction? Do you defend yourself? Do you cry and scream? Do you just get hurt? Do you do anything at all?
Your point of control at any time, but particularly in relationship with others, is within yourself. You cannot control what other people are saying or doing, at all, ever. That means that you have to understand how to be in relationships where you don’t have control over what the other person is doing.
Now I want to make this really clear before we get into this - unless somebody is physically coming at you, there is no reason to defend yourself. I do not expect anybody to stay in perpetually abusive relationships. Let’s get the extremes out of the way because they aren’t what we’re talking about. There is room in between the extremes of human behavior to create change and that’s what I’m aiming for.
People are extremely hard on themselves. They set standards for themselves that are almost impossible to meet and then spend a lot of time wondering why they are miserable. Beating ourselves up is one of the most common reasons why people don't want to heal. They risk causing themselves more pain than they already experience when they run into problems they've created for themselves in the past. I know I certainly wouldn't want to do the work if I was scared of my own wrath against myself.
Why do we do this?
There are a couple of reasons why this shows up. The first is that we were taught to do it by parents and caregivers. The second is that we are afraid of failure and the behavior that we create as a result is to beat ourselves up so much that we don't try anything new. We can start validating our own fears when we beat ourselves up. The third is that we have a low opinion of ourselves and we're beating ourselves up to validate that low opinion. We're trying to prove ourselves right through beating ourselves up.